Bruce and Wilder will go head-to-head on Thursday during a Premier League clash between The Blades and The Magpies at Bramall Lane.

Chris Wilder has spoken out in defence of Newcastle counterpart Steve Bruce ahead of Thursday’s Premier League clash with Sheffield United, refuting claims that the Magpies boss is ‘bang average’.

Despite claiming a number of impressive results since being handed his dream job at St James Park, including wins over Tottenham and Manchester United and a hard-fought draw against Pep Guardiola’s City, Bruce still has plenty of critics lining up to question his credentials.

But the cold hard facts are that Newcastle actually have more points to their name than they did at the same stage of last season, when one-time Champions League winner Rafa Benitez was still in the St James’ dugout.

And, ahead of a meeting with his old ally at Bramall Lane, Wilder has taken the time to hit back at those who continue to doubt one of the most experienced coaches in the Premier League.

“To have his career, as a player and a manager, means he is the ultimate winner in terms of his career achievements,” said Wilder, who counts Bruce as one of his closest friends in the game, speaking to FourFourTwo.

“He’s an experienced manager and to work in the Premier League for the length of time that he has is testament to what he’s about from a tactical and man-management point of view.

“You don’t get given jobs in the Premier League if you’re bang average. Steve’s not bang average as a manager or as a person, so yes, I speak to him quite regularly and I’m certainly not surprised by the job he’s doing at Newcastle.”

Unfortunately for Bruce, however, The Magpies seem incapable of raising their game against teams in and around them in the table, instead saving their best performances for the big boys and the Sky cameras.

Newcastle were nothing short of abysmal in their 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa last week and were far from impressive against Norwich, Wolves or Brighton either. Bruce will be praying that they replicate their colossal performances against City in Sheffield on Thursday as he aims to silence the doubters for good.

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